Hey Tek-ninjas! Today I want blog about how a concept designed to support "lazy" has morphed into universal design (UD) AND access.
Some of you may not even remember a time when you had to get up off the couch to change a tv channel. I do. No, not because I'm THAT old, but we did not get a tv until I was a teen, and then it was a very cheap model. Momma-T was a bit of a granola hippy, and was convinced tv would rot our brains! We certainly did not have a remote control on that black and white box. Did you know that it's been almost 65 years since infrared remote controls came to market? These little gadgets were called "Lazy Bones" and allowed us to stay on the couch (so as not to lose a prime seat). Staying on the couch allowed you to dictate what you watched at least until your bigger brother or sister exercised their might. Sigh.
Flash forward to today, and you find that most if not all modern televisions and tv services do not come with an infrared remote, but rather a radio-frequency remote. RF, also known as “radio frequency,” and IR, which stands for “Infrared,” are two kinds of energy used in remote controls to send commands. RF uses radio waves and IR is a kind of light that.
Additionally, with web-enabled technology, there are so many alternative user interfaces (UI) available now which use voice controls. And this is not just for our tv's anymore. We can connect to the home thermostat, lights, doors, etc.
In my home any of us can say "Hey Google, play the Grateful Dead on Spotify" (I'm the only one who asks for the Dead though), or "Hey Google, turn on my office lights". As long as I'm within "hearing" of the speaker UI - those commands are carried out for me. OR, I can open the app on my iPhone (Android too) and control all of this. It's pretty Amazing.
Access to such technology obviously increases an individual's independence. It allows them to do so much. And for young emergent communicators, it can be a terrific motivator to practice using eye-gaze.
So, I'm unsure that infrared is actually "going away", but I am confident and excited that there are new and more robust user interfaces available which can greatly increase the quality of life for many of our AAC users!